University of Tampa Spartans ace Haden Erbe is doing everything in his power to keep his professional baseball dream alive.
Erbe (5-0) is enjoying a career year in his first season with the Spartans (23-3) posting a 2.76 ERA with a team-leading 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Beginning back in 2017, Erbe has played throughout the college baseball ranks including Division 1, junior college, and now Division 2. This is his final season of eligibility, and he is looking towards the future.
“I’m still here chasing a dream and I plan to continue to pursue a professional baseball career after this year,” the senior said, on an internet call. “For seven or eight years, I’ve just consistently been on that path, and it hasn’t worked out yet, but I’m a man of faith.
“I’m just invigorated with how much success I’ve had, and I feel like I’m better at baseball than I’ve ever been.”
After his first season playing Division 1 at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Erbe transferred to Seminole State Junior College, but was forced to redshirt due to a shoulder injury.
The following season, he ranked as the ninth best JUCO pitcher while striking out nearly a batter per inning. The starter returned to Division 1 at West Virginia University and pitched only two innings, receiving a redshirt for the Covid-19 shortened season.
As a junior, he enrolled at the University of New Orleans, recording 52 strikeouts in 46.1 innings for the Privateers. Coach Joe Urso then convinced the senior to pitch for the top Division 2 team in the nation.
Having gone through countless injuries dating back to high school, health and fitness is something Erbe treats as a science. He uses an Oura Ring to track his sleep and drinks 16 to 24 ounces of water while ensuring he eats a well-balanced diet each day.
“It’s just an investment in myself,” said Erbe. “It’s my health, and I’m 23. I’ve had four elbow surgeries, a knee surgery and a shoulder injury that redshirted me for a year and I’m throwing harder than I’ve ever thrown. And I don’t think it’s an accident.”
The pitcher is not only a star athlete, but a baseball savant with the ability to regurgitate statistics from the past 60-70 years and recite each Major League Baseball team’s top-10 prospect list.
Erbe does not have a favourite team, he simply enjoys every aspect of the game and knows baseball will be a part of his life forever.
“Once my baseball career is over, I’ve said this for years, I will die on a baseball field,” said the Lafayette, LA, native. “I will coach. I love baseball through and through to my core.”
The 23-year-old fell in love with the game at a young age and was fortunate enough to live the childhood dream of many who grew up playing. In 2011, he participated in the Little League World Series, held in Williamsport, Pa., and covered on ESPN.
The tournament occurs each year for children aged 10-12 and Erbe was the shortstop for a team representing the Southwest of the United States.
“I view it as the highlight (of my career),” said Erbe. “That was the greatest experience, not even baseball (related), probably the greatest experience of my life.”
Coach Joe Urso had nothing but great things to say about a pitcher he first tried to recruit out of Seminole State Junior College dating back to 2018.
“He’s definitely a mature kid and a leader, also our number one pitcher,” the coach said. “He kind of gets everything started for us. I think he would tell you this is his last stop and his best stop that he’s had.”